Two weekends ago, we fulfilled every man's dream at our house: We cleaned out our garage. Our lives will never be the same.
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. When we moved into this house, we did it very quickly, more or less just bringing into the house the essentials and stacking the rest in the garage to unpack at a later date.
For instance, maybe next year.
Fortunately for us, my dad knows me better than I know myself, so he called us up and said that the garage was getting cleaned come hell or high water, so get on our wading boots. No one can focus with half of their life piled up on the other side of the wall.
I agreed to this Mississippi-heat-endurance-test because he also mentioned the two most beautiful words in the English language: pressure washer. Aaaah, he would be bringing over his pressure washer, which meant I could blow the old-lady stink in the garage to high heaven and enjoy the endless satisfaction of blasting years of ground-in muck off of our driveway, one slice of the water wand at a time.
Five paragraphs later, I have now told you that we cleaned out our garage. Look, when you bring gas-powered water blasters into the picture, my prose gets a little flowery, so bear with me.
An unexpected result of cleaning out our garage, other than eliminating the constant noise in the back of my mind, was that we started spending more time outside. Much more time. As a family.
It started when the boys realized that they could ride their bikes on their own again, alternating the heat of the driveway and the cool of the garage. This clearly meant I would benefit from two exhausted boys ready to crash at naptime, so I grabbed the book I am currently reading, an Adirondack chair from the yard, a glass of ice cold Coke with crushed ice (dear God, I love having an ice maker again), and set up a little space of my own in our blindingly clean garage so that I could keep an eye on the boys.
Because no matter how many times you say, "Do not drive beyond the car in the driveway, boys!" all they hear is, "Feel free to ride your bikes in the street because you are magic and no cars will splatter you on the road."
This is how I want our summer to be: all of us outside, sweating, enjoying the fruits of our labor, me reading books, enjoying our sons beat the tar out of each other, and my scaring the daylights out of them with threats of Blood on the Highway.
I'm trying to raise men here. As far as I can tell, that begins by raising boys. Boys who play outside, dig in the dirt, climb trees, hit balls over fences, destroy the grass with sprinkler-produced mud puddles, and fight off the mosquitoes until the light has finally failed for the day. Boys who get cuts and scrapes and bruises, but are too busy playing to report them to their mother, let alone whine over them.
The book I am reading right now is Boys Should Be Boys by Meg Meeker, MD. This will, quite frankly, be the theme of our summer. Walking away from anything that requires electricity and embracing everything that eventually requires bandages.
I want to raise men. Real men. True men. Strong men. It starts now. It starts in this garage, extends to the make-shift ball diamond in our backyard, drifts to the creek full of crawfish behind our house, and hopefully takes root in the core of our sons.